Straight Back Syndrome (SBS) can be very painful and it may have cardiac effects.
What is Straight Back Syndrome?
Not to be confused with flatback syndrome (in the lumbar region), straight back syndrome (SBS) “is characterized by the straightness of the backbone”. Without the normal curvature in the thoracic spine, there is reduced space in the region of the diaphragm, ribs, and thoracic vertebrae. As a result, chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, and cardiac murmurs can result. Respiratory failure is a possibility, as noted in case studies; however, SBS is actually more likely to cause problems with the heart than the lungs.1 Palpitations, chest pain, and mitral valve prolapse are all possible complications of straight back syndrome.2 In fact, SBS may “masquerade as heart disease”. Several case studies back up this assertion. Because the “antero-posterior diameter of the thorax is reduced”, there is “compression of the heart and great vessels”. Patients may present with a murmur, and doctors can tell if the spine is straight by using palpation.3 With the reduced chest diameter, there is not only compression of the heart and vessels, but the heart is pushed to the left. Aside from murmurs and mitral valve prolapse, patients may complain of tracheal compression and chest pain. This condition is often underdiagnosed, even though it “has been recognized for over 50 years”.5 SBS may related to heredity as many patients have a family history. It may also be a result of developmental issues before birth or during childhood.6
Chiropractic Care for SBS
A case study showed how chiropractic care helped with straight back syndrome. Paul M. Gold, BSc(H), DC, used chiropractic treatment on a 30 year old male with “chest pain and tightness on his left side”. He had “tingling/numbness in his left arm…mid-thoracic pain, shortness of breath, and chronic fatigue”. The cardiac stress test, ECG, blood work, and other diagnostic tests were normal. The patient had been prescribed physiotherapy, massage therapy, and Naproxen, but those treatments did not work. The chiropractic treatment for this man included spinal adjustments, electrical stimulation, and exercises. After 6 weeks, his pain and disability had significantly reduced. Conservative chiropractic care benefited this patient where other treatments had not provided relief. Dr. Gold noted that “patients with SBS may not require any form of invasive treatment”. It is important to “rule out cardiogenic causes”, but soft tissue treatments, chiropractic care, and exercise may help patients with SBS.7, 8
Learn more about scoliosis and chiropractic options.